Value theory and ecology in environmental ethics: A comparison of Rolston and Niebuhr

Environmental Ethics 17 (2):115-133 (1995)
The objective of Holmes Rolston, III’s writings has been the development of an “ecologically formed” environmental ethics based both on environmental values and ecological description. I show how recasting Rolston’s value theory in terms of H. Richard Niebuhr’s relational value theory can clarify and strengthen this project. Niebuhr developed a theory of value in which value is found in relationships and value systems are constructed in relation to centers of value. Niebuhr’s contextual method, with which Rolston’s methodology has substantial affinity, is particularly open to the use of such sciences as ecology. I conclude that this recasting of Rolston’s important work in terms of relational value and contextual method can clarify the use of ecology in ethics (including the is/ought dichotomy) and can contribute to ethical reflection on such difficult problems as the spotted owl controversy
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DOI 10.5840/enviroethics199517225
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